New claims for unemployment benefits in the United States declined for the second straight week to the lowest level seen since April.
The Labor Department is reporting initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 390,000 in the week ended November 5, slightly below the 400,000 that analysts polled by Reuters had expected. The government revised its estimate for claims during the prior week to 400,000 from 397,000.
The Labor Department reported the number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid fell 92,000 in the week ended October 29 to 3.615 million. That was the steepest drop since February, and the lowest level since the week ended September 20, 2008. The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends, fell to 400,000 from 405,250 the prior week, which was revised up from the previously reported 404,500.
The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending October 22 was 6,835,604, an increase of 51,990 from the previous week.
The states with the largest increases in initial claims for the week included Michigan, Wisconsin, Oregon, Minnesota, and Florida.
A Labor Department official said a freak fall snowstorm that hammered the Northeast U.S. and kept many people housebound, did not affect initial jobless claims.
The downward trend in applications suggests businesses are laying off fewer workers. Still, applications need to drop dramatically to signal sustained job gains. The unemployment rate has been stuck above 9% for more than two years. The Federal Reserve said last week that it is not expected to fall significantly through the end of next year.